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November 5, 2000

Kamel Ayari

Helene Hines

Tony Nogueira


THE MODERATOR: On my far left is Helene Hines, who won the female category 1:57:27 in the hand-cycle category; and this is Tony Nogueira from New Jersey 1:57:33; he was second in the wheelchair division. Congratulations to you both. Tell us about your day, Helene.

HELENE HINES: It was so much fun, because this year, as you know, was very special to me. Seven weeks ago I had kidney cancer and they removed my kidney, and this March than was just like, it wasn't going to happen. With MS was enough, but with the kidney cancer and saying that I could not do it; and last year I was at 2:15 whatever it was, and it was great. They did a great job out there. The course was clear. Unfortunately, the weatherman didn't cooperate because it was very windy.

THE MODERATOR: Joining us is Kamel Ayari, who won the wheelchair division, 1:53:50 out of New York. Tell us, Tony, about your day in New York.

TONY NOGUEIRA: Was praying all week long for it not to be a windy day. I know that my chance to win the race would be better if it was not windy, but we are all in the same boat. And the stronger man won, and I congratulate him for the win. I did lead the race until mile 15, but then the wind just killed me today. I'm really glad that the New York City Marathon has an official wheelchair division, and I hope this just gets better for the years to come and improve from this year's race. Even though it is a good start, I'm looking forward to it even being a better race next year. One suggestion that I have to say is that they need to separate the racing wheelchair division. It needs to be separate from the hand-cycle division. It is separate; that's my opinion. Otherwise, the race was great and I'm looking forward to coming back next year. I have to say that I am pleased with my performance. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. And Kamel, the winner.

KAMEL AYARI: Today, it's very, very windy. The first marathon for me here. I don't know the map for New York City. Sometimes I go fast. Sometimes I find some places that it is hard for me. But I am very happy for this today.

THE MODERATOR: You obviously were closing on Tony here. At what point did you catch him?

KAMEL AYARI: I think at 15 miles.

THE MODERATOR: How far back were you coming through?

KAMEL AYARI: The first time Tony goes very fast, he lost me about -- behind him, two miles. He's very strong. But I am sure he was -- I don't know what happened today. Before, he told me, you win me -- today, for me.

THE MODERATOR: That's the good thing. There's such camaraderie with all of your fellow competitors, isn't there? The spirit is good.

TONY NOGUEIRA: It is sports. You know, sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. It is very competitive and that's what makes it interesting. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fun. That's what makes it a competitive sport. I'm just looking forward to -- for this race for next year, the prize money, so that they can invite the best wheelchair racers in the world. I think that I am looking forward -- especially in the prize money and sponsors that came into this race, you're going to see a very competitive wheelchair division next year. There's a lot of guys out there that missed this race, and I'm looking forward for them to come and show their talents in New York here. It will bring a lot of talent to the sport of running, basically.

THE MODERATOR: Questions from the floor?

Q. Helene, could you just talk about just the importance of it having been an official event?

HELENE HINES: Well, for me it is very, very special, because as the guys are using push-rims I am using a hand-cranked wheelchair. With MS I cannot lean forward because of vertigo. As a physical education teacher, I coach running and wheelchair racing. The hand-cranked chair is really, really hard, and I think it should be a separate event. I trained very, very hard for it. It is not something that I get in there and I play with and for them to make it an official event makes me really excited. Hopefully, next year, we will have money equal to the wheelchairs, because I am an athlete; I train at least five hours a day cross-training. And the money, again, is not for me. I donate it on behalf of U.S. Wheelchair Sports, and hopefully I will be able to help other people. And I thank Bob. I think the event was really good today.

Q. Could I just follow-up with that? Do you agree with Tony and with the push-chair community that the two are almost like different sports and should be different events?

HELENE HINES: Well, the problem is right now that if somebody looked at the Boston results and they took the fast male-rims and the fast male hand-cranks, the push-rims win all the time. So, one day we will be one. But it will the community gets together on that, and we have uniform-size chairs, uniform-size gears. With so many different vehicles out there, you don't know what's there. I saw small tires, large tires. Everything in the world was out there. But I think it has to be uniform. I told Ron, I said when we started, Ron, people started barefoot, and then they went to shoes and then they went to sneakers. The hand-cranks are going to be the way of the future. They won't have as many injuries with their wrist. They will last longer and be old like me. It uses a lot of muscles. You know, if they feel that they want to have a separate start, that's fine. They do in Boston. They have a 15-minute head start than the wheelchairs. But the men come flying right through.

Q. What did you do before you took up wheelchair racing? What did you do for exercise?

KAMEL AYARI: I was running hard, before the operation in New York City.

Q. Before New York City and before you race in the wheelchair, what did you do?

KAMEL AYARI: In my country? I have small business.

Q. Are you saying that in the future you think the hand-cranks and push-rims should be back in one division?

HELENE HINES: Once we get together on technology, okay, we need somebody to get out there and make something that is really evolving, because if you look at what was out there today, you have different shapes and forms of wheelchairs, hand-cranks and some things you look at, you don't even know what they were. There used to be a standard. The wheelchairs are the same, same size wheels, same size weight, the hand-cranks, everything should be the same size.

TONY NOGUEIRA: Well, I disagree. I think it should be kept separate. The reason I race wheelchair races is because I cannot walk. I wanted to run. And the closest thing to running is to use a manual wheelchair; that's the closest thing. To compete against hand cycles, it is totally unfair. They have 36 gears. I mean, I have a hand-cycle at home. If I bring it here I probably would win the race in a hand-cycle. But I don't see myself as a hand-cycle athlete; I see myself as a wheelchair athlete. That's the closest thing to running. It has to be manual. Just has to be one gear, you know what I'm saying? The hand-cycle, it involves a lot of gears, it is a lot easier. It is almost like cycling. I'm not saying that they don't belong in the sport, but they should not be combined, because it makes no sense to compete against hand cycles. Like in Boston, the reason the wheelchair athletes beat the hand cycles is because they -- if you put the same athletes on the hand-cycle, they are going to have even faster times. You can't compare the two. You ask all the best wheelchair racers in the world: They totally disagree. There's no way they can compete against each other.

THE MODERATOR: It's okay to disagree. Congratulations to you.

End of FastScripts....

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